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Archive for the ‘Children and Divorce’ Category

English: Christmas joy at the Xscape, Braehead

English: Christmas joy at the Xscape, Braehead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We know that major holidays can be a rough period of time for the recently separated. The period can be even more difficult if you have kids. So today we thought we would share these tips from independent i.e (Surviving Christmas: 10 Tips for Separated Parents) on how to make the period less stressful  and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

If you’re reading it today, some of these tips may serve as a reminder. If you read it after the holidays, jot them down for next year.

And as you go through this year, make note of what works and what doesn’t in your own planning. Let us know what tips you have.

There is no right way, or wrong way, to organise Christmas as a separated family. All you can ever do is your best to try to make sure your children get to spend time with each parent and that any conflict between you and your ex is kept to a minimum.

Here are 10 tips to consider that might make this process easier:

•       Do try to put other conflicts aside and try to negotiate a fair distribution of the children’s time with each of you.

•       Do consider the children’s preferences about where they want to be on Christmas morning, especially if they are old enough to voice an opinion.

•       Do make sure you, your ex and your children are all clear about the arrangements that have been agreed. Keep your children aware of the plans and any changes that might occur.

•       Do make sure to surround yourself with other family and friends so that you don’t feel too isolated or alone without your immediate family around you.

•       Do give yourself permission to feel sad about not being together with your children for the whole of Christmas, or for missing other traditions your family may have engaged in over Christmas.

•       Don’t criticise your ex-partner in front of the children, even if you are upset about the final arrangements that are made. Your children will still love you both and it is very hard for them to listen to either parent putting the other one down.

•       Don’t unintentionally set your children up, by trying to find out what your ex got up to during the holiday period. They won’t want to upset you or their other parent.

•       Don’t use your children as messengers. Talk (or type) directly to your ex about any arrangements or about any dissatisfaction you have with the arrangements. If direct communication is impossible right now then consider mediation or a neutral third party.

•       Don’t overdo the treats or presents for your children to try to make up for the separation. If they are sad or upset then so be it.

•       Do be warm, understanding and considerate of their feelings, rather than trying to brush their feelings under the carpet or distracting them.

Give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays. Remember that it is a time for peace and joy.

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Personal Budget Plan

Personal Budget Plan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divorce creates the need to gather and track lots of financial information.

  • Your assets make up one set of financials.
  • Your expenses as you go through the divorce make up another. These may include money that you’ve spent on expenses the you should not have paid.
  • A final set may be based on the budget you may create.

This means that there’s going to be lots of numbers and papers floating around. How do you keep track of all this necessary paperwork during a time when you have so much other things to deal with?

Well some of you may already be using a spreadsheet to track the numbers. Still, you have to take the time to put everything in.

And then some of you may be scanning receipts and other financial documents to keep them all on one place, but you still have to take the time to enter numbers into your spreadsheet.

Wouldn’t it be great if you all you had to do was scan and then have the data automatically be converted to your Excel spreadsheet?

Well, there is — with a PDF to Excel converter.

Now we just heard about this and haven’t tried it ourselves. But it sounds like a great productivity tool and a good way to keep track of all of the financial data that can play a big role in the divorce process.

It seems as if you can buy these converters or get free ones online.

Have any of you tried this type of product? What tools do you use to keep track of financial data?

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You know, you hear people talking about how important it is to not only have a vision of what you want, but to also see yourself doing whatever it is you want to do. We think (and others say) that it’s because when you imagine yourself having your vision, it becomes real and you really believe that you can have it, or achieve it, or whatever it is that your vision encompasses.

This is important for you as you go through the period of uncertainty and transition that separation and divorce entail.

And if you have children, it is even more important.

Because who do (or should) children look up to more than their parents? If they see lost parents, what do you think their reality is going to be, both now and in the future when they face setbacks?

If, however, they see their parents moving forward beyond their fear to a positive place,  just think how good it will be for them.

So even if you’re having problems finding that positive vision for you, find it for your children. Everyone will benefit.

How has having positive visions helped you cope with change?

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I once knew a child who knew his parents and other caregivers so well that he knew exactly what he could and couldn’t do depending on who he was with. Are your children like that? Following one set of rules in your ex’s household and another in yours? Is this stressing you out? Well maybe it shouldn’t be.

Of course it would be great to talk to your ex about how you will both discipline your children, but this is even a sore point in some marriages. If you didn’t agree on how to discipline your children when you were living together, it’s not going to be easy to agree once you are separated.

The good news is that the key to maintaining balance in your child’s life isn’t necessarily making them follow your rules in your ex’s household. It is being consistent in your own.

Here’s what Lynn Fredericks has to say about it in her article “Discipline After Divorce” (www.parenting.com).

DON’T WORRY IF YOU CAN’T AGREE

If you and your ex-spouse aren’t able to find common ground on certain issues  — homework schedules, say, or chores  — just make your own house rules. Most experts agree that children are able to understand and adapt to different rules in different environments  — at home, at daycare, at Grandma’s, or at your ex’s house.

STICK TO YOUR RULES

The key to discipline in any situation is consistency. Offer firm statements like, “It’s fine that you don’t have to clean your room at your dad’s house, but here we pick up our own toys.” You may be called the mean one, but try to remember that kids are always testing their limits. Your child will ultimately benefit from the security your rules provide.

KEEP PENALTIES HOUSEBOUND

Unless you’ve agreed upon it beforehand, don’t expect your ex to enforce a punishment you’ve handed down. It’s not fair to the other parent, notes Stenger-Dowds, and the length of a penalty isn’t as important as the enforcement of a rule. When bad behavior occurs right before a visit with Mom or Dad, an immediate consequence, like a time-out, will suffice for kids under 6. For older children, discipline  — such as revoked privileges or extra chores  — can wait. And if you and your ex do decide to let repercussions apply in both homes, discuss in advance which infractions are major enough for you to consult with each other about.

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English: Ivana Trump departs the 10th Annual A...

English: Ivana Trump departs the 10th Annual Angel Ball 2007 that helps raise money for the G&P Foundation for Cancer Research. Marriott Times Square, October 29, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you seek revenge, dig two graves.

–Chinese Proverb

That’s the message I got from the movie “War of the Roses.”

But for some, it seems to have worked liked negative advertising. You know, whatever commercials say don’t do, people do anyway. The attitude is like, “It happened to that person, but I’m smarter (the Man of Steel…whatever) so it won’t happen to me.

To see what I mean, you have to read the article we just read on http://www.telegraph.co.uk, titled “Don’t let divorce turn out worse than the marriage.”

But before you go, I want to say that the stories you are about to read aren’t just other people’s stories. We’ve seen case after case where someone sought revenge and ended up living in the prison of their own making in the end. And, if you are on the receiving end, take the high road. Don’t engage. It will really be hard to do at the time, but in the end you will be glad that you did. Really.

Here’s the article. It is by Julia Llewellyn Smith

7:00AM GMT 10 Feb 2013

“There was one client who let loose the handbrake of her ex’s Mercedes and sent it over a cliff,” recalls divorce lawyer Vanessa Lloyd Platt. “Another went naked under a fur coat into her husband’s office, where he was in a meeting with important Japanese clients. She threw it off, shouting: ‘This is what he’s given up.’”

A marriage might be unhappy, but that misery is often nothing compared with the agonies that accompany divorce. Last week, many of us may have decided to forgive our spouses’ hogging of the duvet and the remote control after witnessing the spectacular fall-out from the break-up of the former cabinet minister Chris Huhne and his wife, the high-powered economist Vicky Pryce.

Pryce told a newspaper that she unwillingly took speeding points on her husband’s behalf eight years earlier, when they were happily married, to save him from a driving ban.

Having steadfastly denied the accusations, on Monday Huhne pleaded guilty in court and resigned from Parliament. Pryce’s case continues to be heard. It was alleged that she was driven by revenge; Pryce, however, denies this and says that she has been manipulated by the press. “I was beginning to feel that actually I had been perhaps manipulated in a way and that things had probably been pushed too far,” she said last Friday.

Both high-flyers face a possible jail sentence. Never has the Chinese proverb “When you seek revenge, dig two graves” rung more true.

Even more tragic, however, were the expletive-laden texts read out in court between Huhne and his then teenage son, who now refuses to talk to his father, or see him. “Happy Christmas. Love you, Dad.” “Well I hate you, so f— off” reads a typical exchange.

According to Lloyd Platt, a huge number of divorcing spouses she counsels are initially hell-bent on vengeance. “Every practitioner has noticed that clients’ behaviour is getting worse. It’s always been bad, but over the past few years it’s become even more common. All those films such as The War of the Roses and The First Wives Club have made us think that it’s acceptable to behave insanely.”

Family lawyer Alex Carruthers agrees. “There is a lot of talk about judges becoming very stressed, that with legal aid for most divorce cases about to be stopped in April, the amount of anger they’re witnessing is really taking its toll on the judiciary.”

At his practice, Hughes Fowler Carruthers, partners have heard of clients dumping white paint over cars, shredding clothes, scattering possessions in the garden, and a wife arranging for the actress who had been having an affair with her husband to be served with divorce papers just before she went on stage in the West End. “It can be the people you’d least expect, the middle-class people who hold down respectable jobs, who can be very, very manipulative and nasty and display some really low cunning,” says Carruthers.

Last year, Kevin Fiore from Staffordshire sawed in two all the furniture in his former family home, labelling each half “Kev’s half” and “mine”. He was outdone, however, by Cambodian Moeun Sarim, who suspected his wife of an affair with a policeman. In 2008 he bisected the entire family home, removing the debris to his parents’ house and leaving his ex-wife’s half still standing, at the mercy of the elements.

But even this pales beside the exploits of American doctor Nicholas Bartha, who, in 2006, died from his injuries after he blew up his New York townhouse rather than hand it to his ex-wife. Then there’s the 2009 story of another US doctor who donated a kidney to his wife, thereby saving her life. When their marriage ended, Richard Batista demanded the return of his organ or $1.5 million (£950,000) in compensation, but his case was thrown out by a judge who ruled that organs were not marital assets.

Last year, an open-mouthed British public UK witnessed the unedifying case of Kavanagh versus Kavanagh: two lawyers who lost their £3 million home after spending five years and nearly £1 million bickering over their children and assets.

Recent research by Manchester law firm Pannone revealed that one in five divorce rows features custody disputes over items such as a packet of smoked salmon and a mustard jar, in each case invoking a lawyer’s bill that could probably have paid for the same item 100 times over.

“These cases sound funny, but the reality of someone being assailed with that degree of heartbreak is deeply sad,” says divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag, managing director of Vardags Solicitors. She adds that the internet has given estranged spouses a whole new boxing ring.

“They get hold of their spouse’s online address book and send an email to all their contacts outlining what they’ve done; or they alter statuses on Facebook.” Husband and wife Kate Rothschild and Ben Goldsmith, scions of two of Britain’s wealthiest families, last year heaped humiliation on themselves by attacking each other on Twitter, with his calling her “appalling” and her responding that her new lover had “saved my life.”

Social media apart, Vardag’s experience is that men most commonly express their anger at marital breakdown through physical violence, or by withholding money – stopping credit cards and emptying bank accounts.

In contrast, women try to withhold contact with the children or damage the father’s relationship with them. “It happens again and again, but fortunately, the courts will not sanction any of this. I tell my clients that it’s much better not to be vindictive but to follow Ivana Trump’s maxim of, ‘Don’t get mad, get everything.’”

Lloyd Platt agrees that many clients are initially too angry to think logically. “So many people say: ‘I’m going to tell the Inland Revenue about his dodgy tax returns’, or ‘I’m going to tell the boss he had an affair with someone in the office’. I have to ask them to think things through.

“The Inland Revenue may accuse you of colluding, and you’ll end up involved in criminal proceedings. There could be tax penalties, interest, and it could wipe out everything you want to get. If you reveal his affair with the assistant director, he could lose his job and then you won’t get maintenance. I can usually persuade around 85 per cent of vengeful clients to step back, but the other 15 per cent get into all kinds of difficulties.”

Lady Sarah Graham-Moon became a poster girl for scorned wives when, in 1992, she cut up her philandering husband’s Savile Row suits and distributed the contents of his vintage wine cellar on neighbours’ doorsteps. But Moon’s actions distressed her children and ended all chances of a favourable settlement. “I ended up living in a basement flat in Swindon feeling completely wretched,” she said a decade later. “Being seen to be happy is the greatest revenge.”

Christopher Compston, a retired judge who has written a book on divorce, Breaking Up Without Cracking Up, is the child of divorced parents and has himself divorced and remarried. He agrees. “Lady Moon delighted the media and the public. She did about £30,000 worth of damage, I believe, and severely embarrassed her children. Years later, she conceded that wisdom had not been her friend at the time. The moral is be as angry and bitter as you like but don’t publicly harm your former partner. After all, the divorce itself is traumatic enough for the children, and they, not you, are the most important people in this tragic breakdown.

“I have been divorced and, over many years, both in court and outside court, have dealt with these problems. One of my favourite stories concerns a middle-aged vicar’s wife whose husband had run off with a younger woman. She was devastated. Furthermore, she lost her status and her home. Her reaction? When in great pain she would place a photograph of her husband on the sofa, collect every cushion in the house and then throw them at the photograph. She’d collect up the cushions, put the photograph away, and make a cup of tea! That’s the way to do it.”

Marriage therapist Andrew G Marshall, author of My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Any More, is another advocate for restraint, not only for financial reasons, but for the sake of any children.

“People think older children, such as the Huhnes’, won’t be hurt by divorce, but it’s just as painful, especially if your parents start confiding to you inappropriate things like ‘your mother didn’t have sex with me for six years’ or ‘you were an accident’. It makes you question your whole past and wonder if your childhood was a lie, which is incredibly upsetting and destabilising.”

Mary, 35, was shaken by her parents’ divorce when she was 26 (which included her father cutting down her mother’s pride and joy, the ancient wisteria that grew around the family home). “The divorce was the first time I became aware of my parents as people with distinct personalities, strengths and foibles rather than just Mum and Dad in bad ways as well as good. It was also the first time I felt I had to look after them rather than vice versa. The feeling of having lost the people who looked out for you, that your wellbeing was no longer the focus of their attention, was surprisingly painful.”

Marshall agrees that most rejected spouses entertain revenge fantasies. “But most people are sensible enough not to act them out. So when somebody else does, they have incredible resonance.” This, Pryce is discovering, to her and her children’s eternal cost.

 

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Read and act accordingly…

Third of family break-up children lose contact with fathers in ‘failing’ court system, poll

Tens of thousands of children a year are losing contact with their fathers because of “failing” family court system and disastrous custody arrangements, a study has found.

Source: The Telegraph

One in three children whose parents separated or divorced over the last 20 years disclosed that they had lost contact permanently with their father.

Almost a tenth of children from broken families said the acrimonious process had left them feeling suicidal while others later sought solace in drink, drugs or crime.

They complained of feeling “isolated” and “used” while parents admitted having used children as “bargaining tools” against each other.

Lawyers said the study showed that the court system itself was making family break-up more acrimonious with children used as “pawns”.

They warned that so-called “no fault” divorces were encouraging warring parents to channel their “bloodletting” into disputes over contact.

The poll of 4,000 parents and children was carried out to provide a snapshot of the workings of the family court system exactly 20 years after the implementation of the landmark 1989 Children Act.

It found that a third of children from broken families had been tempted by drink or drugs while as many as 10 per cent had later become involved in crime.

A quarter of the children said that they had been asked to lie to one parent by the other and 15 per cent said they had even been called on to “spy” for their mother or father.

Meanwhile half of parents polled admitted deliberately drawing out the legal process for maximum benefit and more than two thirds conceded that they had used their children as “bargaining tools”.

About 250,000 couples, both married and non-married, separate every year affecting 350,000 kids, according to the Department for Children Schools and Families.

“The adversarial nature of the system invites people to come and use the courts system as a punch up and the children get used as pawns,” said Sandra Davis, head of family law at Mishcon de Reya, for whom the poll was conducted.

“It polarises parents and it puts children in the middle of the antagonism.

“Some fathers back off because it is too painful to carry on litigating, they give up.”

Tim Loughton, the Tory Shadow children’s minister, said: “This is alarming evidence of the very detrimental impact it is having on the welfare of the children themselves.”

“Clearly, the court system is failing and is positively encouraging conflict – and continuing conflict.”

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader and founder of the Centre for Social Justice, warned that young people were bearing the scars of a divorce “boom” and a resulting lack of father figures.

“It is a mess, it needs a complete overhaul,” he said. “It is an organisation locked in secrecy and deeply unhelpful to the parents and the children and all too often able to exacerbate the problems that they are about to face.”

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat children’s spokesman, added: “In too many cases the children become caught up in the crossfire between two warring parties in a system which sometimes encourages the parents to take entrenched positions.”

Miss Davis called for compulsory mediation for parents hoping to use the divorce courts rather than the current ”tick box” exercise for those seeking legal aid.

But a spokesman for the Children’s Society said that compulsion “goes against everything we have learned from many, many years of experience”.

Delyth Morgan, the children’s minister, added: “Divorce and separation can have a devastating impact on children caught in the middle.

“But this survey, looking as far back as 20 years ago, simply doesn’t reflect what support is available for families now … we have acted to give families comprehensive counselling, practical and legal support.”

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Welcome to money-issue Wednesday.

The article we’ve reposted below has some great advice that lots of people don’t realize until it’s too late. Keep your emotions out of the process and pay attention to what it has to say before it’s too late for you and your children.

Managing Finances Through a Divorce
by Andrea Murad

Divorce is a trying time for anyone—especially when children are involved.

The separation process is long and filled with paperwork, especially when it comes to sorting out finances and budgeting for separate households. Experts advise parents strive to maintain their children’s lifestyle during and after the divorce to keep a sense of normalcy and planning a budget for potential custody or child support will help to make the split easier for all parties.

The problem in every divorce is that you have the same income but two households, says Randy Kessler, founding partner of Kessler & Solomiany. “Very few people make enough money to support a child the way they want to.” Lawyers and judges try to fix this problem by determining the minimum amount one parent can accept and the most the other can afford to pay for their children.

“Before you break up, become a better parent—take your kid to school, make them lunch,” says Kessler. Spending time with your kids as well as staying calm and saying nice things about the other parent, will help the custody case process.

Before heading into the legal process, work to create the custody outcome you want, recommends Kessler. If a judge has to make a decision about custody, he or she may keep the parents’ current arrangement. “If they share the child like they would in a divorce, they don’t have to pay a lawyer.”

Understand How Much your Child Costs

Maintaining a child’s lifestyle post-divorce requires parents to negotiate expenses and child support. “Every state has guidelines so a judge has a starting point for child support,” says Kessler. A judge will calculate child support and explain any deviation from the guidelines because of, for example, housing, extreme travel costs, medical needs or tuition for a child requiring extra training because of a learning disability.

Child support can be adjusted up or down after the divorce since a person’s income can change due to a raise or job loss. To avoid future trips back to court, Kessler suggests making payments a percentage of income.

To know how much you spend on your child, review 12 months of bank and credit card statements, says Tracy Stewart, certified public accountant and personal financial specialist in College Station, Texas. “Break down expenses for mom, dad and the children into categories like clothing, groceries, transportation and dining.” Also include summer camp and other activities. For categories like groceries that are shared by family members, figure out each person’s percentage of expenses. Adding up the numbers will help create a baseline for the money spent on your children in the last year.

It’s important to be clear about your expenses and that you’re able to live within a certain budget, says Suzanna de Baca, vice president of wealth strategies at Ameriprise Financial. “In general, the court will ask you for budgets or for you to provide records to help determine the amount of child support payments.”

While you review your child’s expenses, experts suggest examining your budget as a single parent. As a general rule, Jonathan Clements, director of Financial Education for Citibank, suggests keeping fixed costs like housing, utilities, food, insurance and property taxes at 50% of pre-tax income. The great litmus test is whether you can save on a regular basis—if you can’t, your expenses are too high and you’re probably spending too much on housing, says Clements. “You want to live within your income reasonably comfortable. Your finances will spiral out of control if everything is too tight.”

Experts suggest deciding whether you can spend the same amount of money on your children after the divorce. “If [child support] plus your income isn’t enough to maintain your child’s lifestyle, you’ll have to make tradeoffs for your child or yourself,” says de Baca.

Financially Protect Your Children

Consider insurance polices. The parent paying child support should have a life insurance policy, as well as disability insurance, recommends Stewart. The life insurance beneficiary should be the children or structure the policy such that the money is used to raise the children. Disability insurance will replace lost income if the person paying child support becomes disabled.

Negotiate medical costs. “You’ll want to look to the working parent to put the children on their health insurance,” says Stewart. Decide which parent will pay out-of-pocket expenses and how you’re going to pay and reimburse each other.

Prepare for the Future and Begin to Co-Parent 

You’ll have to make joint decisions for your children years after the divorce, says Stewart. In the future, they may have to discuss whether to send a child to summer camp of if a child can get a car, cell phone or tattoo. “You want the parents to be able to come to an agreement on these things in the future years. You cannot predict some expenses at the time of the divorce because you won’t know what can occur in the future.”

“Depending on the divorce situation, your spouse may not want to talk and the judge may decide on guideline support,” says Stewart. Parents who aren’t talking during the divorce may not talk after, which makes for uncomfortable parenting.

Although divorce is enormously upsetting, Clements doesn’t suggest funneling your emotions into the battle over finances—everybody ends up worse in this situation. “You want a reservoir of goodwill because you’ll need to ask your ex to watch the kids. If you have a nasty divorce, a flexible parenting agreement is likely to be impossible.”

Source

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